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Sometimes, you need to do more than just think “outside the box”—sometimes you need to get rid of the box

Come next fall, we will have an entirely new leadership team at the Dishow to think outside the boxtrict Administration level, and new (or newish) principals at both DHS and HPHS.  With that wholesale change at the top comes a real and unique opportunity to challenge the status quo on many levels.  We need to ensure that we have elected a School Board that will guide and empower our District’s new leaders to think boldly and creatively about the future of our District and our schools, rather than tether them to stale conventions, and stagnant philosophies of yesterday.

District 113 must learn from the past, not live in the past.

Make no mistake about it–changing any organization’s culture and engrained behaviors is not easy. It takes committed leadership to reject conventions and norms, to look past “the way we’ve always done it” and identify a better way towards being the organization that we want to become.

I am committed to innovation and a leadership style that will find ways to say “YES” to the best and brightest ideas and ideals.

 

 

District 113 begins search for new HPHS principal

ct-hpn-koulentes-hphs-jpg-20170303This is a significant loss for our District, as Dr. Thomas Koulentes has done a wonderful job at the helm of HPHS. The most moving and fitting tribute to his tenure was the large number of Spanish speaking students and their families who attended last Monday’s Board meeting to publicly express their appreciation for his effort and dedication towards making them feel safe and welcome in the building and in our community. To those folks, Dr. Tom was a GIANT in so many ways, and his shoes will not be easily filled.

We should all take a page from Dr. Tom, and do our part to see that the diversity in our schools and community is truly celebrated.  Best of luck Dr. Tom, and thank you for your service to our kids and community.   You will always be a GIANT.

You can read more about the meeting by linking to the Tribune story below.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-search-begins-for-koulentes-successor-tl-0309-20170303-story.html

 

Numbers of AP Test-Takers and AP Test Scores Continue to Rise

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The link below is to an article in Education Week about the rising number of AP test takers, fueled in part by the surge in low income students taking AP exams.

What is especially encouraging is the fact that the average scores on all AP exams has held steady or improved even as more students have taken the tests.

But the article cautions that those numbers could drop among low income students based upon uncertainty in federal funding.  The dedicated federal grant program that had been developed specifically to subsidize AP tests for low-income students was replaced in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by a block-grant program that allows but does not require that those funds be used to subsidize tests.

As a  District, I believe that we owe ALL of our students the opportunity to achieve, and will fight to make sure that we continue to subsidize AP tests among other programs for our students.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/03/01/numbers-of-ap-test-takers-continue-to-rise.html

Adopt a Yard Sign (or two)!

The yard signs are in! The yard signs are in!  I’m trying to distribute them in pairs and asking my supporters to find a friend or neighbor that will take the second sign.

If you are interested, you can email me at spathisd113@gmail.com or send me a FB Message (but please include your address). Thanks!

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Improved Board Governance on Display

gavelIn case you missed it, at its February 13th meeting, the Board began consideration of a plan that would move first semester final exams from mid January to before winter break. Last fall, our Superintendent convened a Calendar Committee to examine an array of options for moving finals to December.  HPHS Principal, Tom Koulentes, chaired the committee and was on hand, together with DHS Department Head, Rich Grady, to present the committee’s findings.

District parents were also present, and during the comment section shared their feelings about the possible calendar reconfiguration–mostly speaking out against any change to the status quo.  To be sure there were great arguments expressed both in favor of and against a change.  The Board will vote at its next Action meeting in early March on whether or not to reconfigure the calendar.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Board and Committee deserve praise for the their evaluation and decision making process.  The Committee conducted multiple comprehensive surveys of thousands of stakeholders–parents, faculty and students–and shared summaries all of the statistics that it had gathered.  Moreover, the Committee’s presentation was unbiased, going out of its way to acknowledge and validate many of the the same concerns that parents who were present had also expressed.  And the Board asked many questions, digging well beneath the surface of the data that was presented.

Invariably, regardless of the outcome, there will be some that will not be pleased or satisfied with the Board’s decision.  But we can all take solace that the decision making process was thorough, transparent, considerate and objective.

To learn more about the Calendar issue, check out the links below or the minutes of the Board’s February 13, 2017 meeting.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-district-113-eyes-december-finals-tl-0223-20170220-story.html

http://www.hplandmark.com/school/district-113-school-board-d113-mulls-shifting-finals-december